#239: Dropped T and D Sounds in English | Understand Fast Speakers Series

May 4, 2022 | Pronunciation Training

Why does often sound like ofən? Or lightning sound like ligh’ning. The secret is the dropped t sound in English pronunciation. 

As part of my Understand Fast English Speakers series, we’ll focus on the dropped t and dropped d sounds.

There are several patterns we follow for these dropped sounds in American pronunciation. 

With this lesson, I invite you to practice your English pronunciation with me. Listen and repeat. 

At the end of this lesson, I’ll also share some tips on linking. Linking in pronunciation allows us to smoothly move from one word to the next. 

What you learn will not only help you understand fast speech in English but you’ll also sound more natural in your English conversation by following these pronunciation patterns.

The Dropped T and Dropped D Sounds in English Pronunciation

Dropped /t/ Sound in English

Have you ever noticed that you’ll sometimes hear an American say ofən as opposed to often?

That /t/ in the middle gets dropped. 

Tip #1: The /t/ sound is often dropped when it is followed by a consonant.

  • The word ‘lightning’ is usually pronounced as ligh’ning.


Tip #2: /t/ is dropped when it’s followed by a word beginning with a consonant. 

  • Native speakers often delete the /t/ sound in left sideˌ to say lefside.
  • You may also hear someone say ‘next door’ as nexdoor.


Tip #3: /t/ is dropped when it follows the /n/ sound. 

  • I don’t understand becomes I doʊn understand.
  • I went outside for a walk becomes I wɛn outside for a walk.
  • I want to take a walk becomes I wanna take a walk.


Pop Quiz: How would you say the following:

  • Interesting
  • Plenty
  • Must be
  • Christmas
  • Twenty
  • Interview
  • Going to

Dropped /d/ Sound in English

Tip #4: Like the /t/ sound, /d/ is often dropped when it follows the /n/ sound and is followed by a consonant. 

  • For example, your neighbor could ask, “Do you have any weeken plans?”
  • I’ve got a big weeken project ahead of me.


Pop Quiz: How would you say the following:

  • Hand me – Could you hand me that envelope?
  • Sound familiar – Does her name sound familiar to you?
  • Grand piano – My husband would love to have a grand piano.


Tip #5: /d/ is dropped in and.

Native speakers often reduce the and to /an/, by dropping the /d/ sound, or simply to /n/ by dropping /a/ and /d/.

  • For instance, you might hear your supervisor say, “Please email HR an schedule a meeting with Adam.”
  • The lead singer of a band might say, “Let’s rock n roll”. 

Linking in English Pronunciation

By now, you may have noticed that when the /d/ or /t/ sounds are dropped, it becomes part of the next word. 

Tip # 6: To easily transition to the next sound, native speakers drop /d/ or /t/ and smoothly link it to the next word. 

  • Most thoughtful sounds like mosthoughtful


Tip #7: /d/ or /t/ are dropped and linked when they occur at the end of one word AND at the beginning of the next. 

  • For instance, “I’m wearing a red dress tonight” becomes “I’m wearing a redress tonight”. 


Strategy #8: Native speakers drop /t/ or /d/ after a vowel, when it ends a word and the next word begins with a /k/ sound. 

  •  ‘Credit card’ is not pronounced with an enunciated /t/. Instead, we say kredikard.
  • Similarly, ‘cold call’ is pronounced as kolkall.

In both examples, the /t/  and /d/ are dropped and the words are linked together. 

As you watched this lesson today, did you have an aha moment?

An aha moment is a moment of insight or clarity. 

If so, I’d love to hear about it.

Tell me how today’s lesson helped you. Share a quick comment in the comment section below to let me know.

~ Annemarie


P.S. Are you looking for a community to provide support, help you stay motivated, and guarantee that you grow? Check out our Confident Women Community.

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